Thursday, August 24, 2006

they listen to teeth to learn how to quit

Today, in Prague, the International Astronomical Union has booted Pluto out of the Planetary Union. At their 26th annual meeting, they declassified the planet, demoting it to the status of "dwarf planet", putting it in the same class with comets and asteroids.

NASA has not shelved its $700M mission to Pluto, saying that it is interested in Pluto whether it is called a "planet" or a "garden hose".
NASA said Thursday that Pluto's demotion would not affect its US$700 million New Horizons spacecraft mission, which earlier this year began a 9 1/2-year journey to the oddball object to unearth more of its secrets.

''We will continue pursuing exploration of the most scientifically interesting objects in the solar system, regardless of how they are categorized,'' Paul Hertz, chief scientist for the science mission directorate, said in a statement.

Translation: "It's too late to turn back now"

They said that a "planet" must maintain its own gravitational force and have a reasonably "round" orbit around the sun. Pluto is being declassified because it has an orbit that crosses path with Neptune.

This. Changes. Everything.

As a kid, growing up, I was taught a mnemonic device for remembering the planetary order:
Mary's Violet Eyes Make John Stay Up Nights Praying
Mercury Venus Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune Pluto

Now what?

I don't like the idea of having John Stay Up Nights without a purpose. We need a new mnemonic device.

Who else learned different devices to remember the planetary order? Will yours work without Pluto in the mix?

Pluto has long been the center of much controversy. Most people recognize that Pluto is Mickey Mouse's pet dog. At some times, though, Pluto was also known to be the property of the irascible Donald Duck. Still, at other times, Pluto was Goofy's pet. Although it makes very little sense for a mouse or a duck to have a pet dog, it's bordering on ludicrousness for a dog to have a pet dog. You tell me.

coming soon: a post on a very Pavement-esque moment at work the other day.

now playing:

Throwing Muses The Real Ramona


doug said...

I think Pluto still maintains a status above the lowly asteroid, by being called, according to the new terminology, a "micro-planet". At least the freakin' Planetary Union didn't adopt the term "pluton" for small planet objects - which they were throwing around. That would've started off a geologist vs. astrophysicists war - the likes of which this planet has never seen. Don't mess with our terminology yo!

I never used mnemonic devices - I could never remember what the letters meant, so it was easier for me to just learn the terms. But, I did really enjoy the shit you all came up with for geology. By the way, I think your revised device for the planets is a lot more mysterious and interesting. What IS John staying up all night for?!

Bill Purdy said...

Aren't Mary's Violet Eyes sufficient enough reason for John to Stay Up Nights?

The Praying part never made sense to me, anyway. But I'm not much of a god-fearer.

How hard is it to remember the nine planets, in order? Especially now that it's eight planets? No harder than memorizing a phone number, I'd wager.

(Speaking of wagers, I was hoping to have Xena and Selna in my pocket for future bar bets. Now I'm sorta screwed on that count.)

Scott said...

My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nice Pizza.

Not the same without the pizza.